UConn Law Remembers Rep. John Lewis

UConn Law Remembers Rep. John Lewis
July 21, 2020

U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a venerated leader of the civil rights movement who died Friday after serving in Congress for more than 30 years, spoke in 2012 at the commencement of the UConn School of Law.

Born to sharecroppers in rural Alabama, Lewis became one of the 13 original Freedom Riders challenging Jim Crow laws and one of the nation's most prominent civil rights leaders. An advocate of non-violent resistance, he was arrested more than 40 times and beaten repeatedly.

At the commencement in 2012, after Dean Jeremy Paul and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy presented Lewis with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree, he urged students to use their law degrees to make the world a better place. "I used to ask my mother, my father, my grandparents, my great-grandparents a lot of questions: 'Why? Why?'" he told the audience. "They said, 'That's the way it is. Don't get in the way. Don't get in trouble.' But many years ago I made up my mind to get in trouble. It was good trouble. It was necessary trouble."

That phrase is now trending as #GoodTrouble on social media in the days after Lewis' death at the age of 80.

See more images of U.S. Rep. John Lewis at the 2012 commencement on Flickr.